A HEART attack survivor has slammed the removal of a “vital lifeline” from the town centre.

Concerns have been raised at the apparent disappearance of a life-saving defibrillator from the centre of Banbridge.

The device, which can increase the chance of a person surviving a cardiac arrest, was stored in SuperValu in Newry Street in 2005 but has seemingly been removed after being placed there for just two years.

In a council press release when the equipment was introduced to the town centre in November of that year the purchase was praised as giving someone who collapsed in the town “a better chance of survival”.

But when contacted by the Leader last week, town centre manager Mechelle Brown said she had no knowledge of where the defibrillator might be now.

The Chest Heart and Stroke Assocation worked with local retailers to bring the defibrillator to the town at the time.

A Banbridge man who recently suffered a heart attack said the revelation that the defibrillator is no longer there is very worrying.

He said, “Having had one of these life-saving machines used on me just a few months ago I am acutely aware of its importance and the reality is that it can and does save lives. It saved mine.

“I applaud those involved originally in securing this equipment for the town - but it is very worrying to know that that vital safety net has now been remove, and no-one seems to know where it’s gone.”

Currently there is a defibrillator located in the district’s three leisure centres and Gilford Community Centre, but the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) confirmed that they have no list of the location of defibrillators in public places - including these.

“It’s great that the leisure centres have defibrillators but can we rely on these to reach someone in time if they have collapsed in Newry Street?” said the heart attack survivor.

“When this equipment was in the town centre it gave anyone in serious trouble a real chance.”

For each minute that passes when a person suffers a cardiac arrest their chance of survival decreases by 14 per cent.

Meanwhile a man who donated a defibrillator to Rathfriland Football Club last year following the death of his son in 2009, has backed the call for the medical equipment to be available in public places.

John McGuinness, whose son Oisin was just 16 when he died, told the Leader that Banbridge town centre is a prime area for a defibrillator which could be used to save someone’s life in an emergency.

“We are talking about places where you have a large number of people congregating - and you might have a lot of people who are that bit older,” he said.

“In terms of placing a defibrillator there my family would be very supportive of that and think that should really be the norm.”

The Oisin McGuinness fund has raised thousands of pounds since his sudden death, and donated 20 defibrillators across Northern Ireland.”

John McPoland of the NIAS said they would welcome a list of all the public places in possession of a defibrillator so they could be contacted while the ambulance makes its way to the scene of an emergency.

“At the minute there are more defibrillators out there than we know about so we would appeal to people to get in contact to let us know if they have defibrillators and where they are.”